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Barry Swift


Three hundred years in Yorkshire

Sepia photograph of the Pollard family, 1919.
The Pollard family, 1919. Barbara Pollard, Barry's mother, is standing at the back with a big bow in her hair. © Barry Swift

The starting point for me in delving into my family history was my father's notebook. For two years, 1940 and 1941, he wrote down just about everything that happened in his life! He also started to draw up a family tree, probably based on his own mother's memories. This is what gave me the impetus to take it further. It's been an interesting process during which I've learnt just how much information you can find on the internet. I've also learnt to separate what is fact from what might be family 'folklore'. So far I've discovered that there have been no murderers or bank robbers in the family - yet. But the story is far from complete. Here is something of what I have found.

Both my mother's and father's families have lived in Yorkshire for 300 years. My father's family (Swift) seems to originate from the Worsborough area, near to Barnsley. They were farm labourers. I visited the farm at Blacker, near Worsborough where my great great great grandfather was recorded as living in the 1841 census. They moved on from there to Oughtibridge and Wadsley, becoming more industrial in their professions and ending up as small tool manufacturers.

My mother's family (Pollard) possibly came from Leeds via Greasbrough to Pitsmoor. The men in the family were carpenters, then lower management in a steel works, then pattern makers. By 1861 my maternal great great grandfather was living on Andover Street. He died in 1864 and his widow moved to Nottingham Street, with her children living nearby at Spital Street, Grimesthorpe Road and Catherine Street. My mother grew up in Cawston Road and went to Firshill Infants School. As for me, I have lived in Crabtree ever since 1946 when my parents moved back into the area after a few years in other parts of Sheffield.

During my research, I've spent a lot of time in the Local Studies library and Sheffield Archives, finding staff there very helpful in guiding my search for information. I've now got a list of around 1300 names of people connected to the two families in some way or other. I still feel I'm 'tidying up' some of the information I've found: the investigation will never finish, I reckon, but it's moved me on from statistical stuff to social history. Why did my paternal great great grandfather move from Worsborough to Oughtibridge around 1855, will I ever find out?

Written by Barry Swift, November 2006.